My biggest fear when arriving at Tuck was that I was too old to start an MBA. I’d always dreamed of the journey, but came up with several excuses and put it off for 10 years after college. When I received the happy call from Tuck Admissions, many friends suggested that I wouldn't have much to learn in a classroom anymore.
However, now well into the program, I am pleasantly surprised by the inclusive learning experiences—both in the classroom and outside of it. I feel like a welcome part of multiple communities; my voice is always heard and respected, regardless of my age, life stage, and origin.
I took the above picture during a study group section meeting. A section consists of 12 study groups, making the learning experience even more compelling! My first study group was made up of students from various backgrounds, including entrepreneurship, consulting, marketing, asset management, and technology. After the first meeting, I became anxious about the value I could provide—all the other members seemed highly accomplished in ways I wasn’t.
I initially made the wrong efforts to prove my value—trying to always be ahead of schedule and the first one to do the team assignments. However, I wasn’t paying attention to how that attitude negatively impacted others. By overcompensating for the worry I felt, I was making others feel the same. After a couple of rounds of straightforward discussions, our group finally started to distribute the work equally and paid attention to everyone's opportunities to contribute. This breakthrough was crucial, especially when we began to have different priorities a few months into the recruiting season. Although it wasn’t an easy process, we learned to respect and empathize with others' situational challenges.
For me, this was an immersive learning opportunity in helping to build and manage an effective team.
Professor Kopalle quotes professors from other courses. I really appreciate how classes are designed to fit together.
Two of my favorite courses so far are Financial Accounting with Professor Leslie Robinson and Analytics with Professor Praveen Kopalle—both from Tuck’s renowned core curriculum. Throughout my pre-MBA career, I assumed that these subjects would not be relevant to my future career, and intentionally avoided them. However, I learned so much from them that I even started to think I was good at the subjects!
Professors Robinson and Kopalle taught beyond the practical knowledge and frameworks of their subjects, communicating how the subject matter was fun and meaningful as well. Their enthusiasm stimulated everyone's curiosity, despite diverse backgrounds and career interests.
My fall term Tripod Hockey team. Everyone demonstrated a profound fighting spirit and team effort to win together.
Tripod Hockey is another excellent example of a learning opportunity that I didn’t expect. I always enjoyed playing sports but had never even been on ice. At first, I felt a little unsure of the inclusive messages conveyed by the captains because I was literally the worst player on the ice. However, they always made sure that I felt part of the team. I made many mistakes, but I was never laughed at by the captains or my teammates. I appreciated enthusiastic plays on the ice, tactics discussions in the locker room, and post-game reflections in the parking lot.
I remember when I asked about the communal environment at Tuck in the admissions interview. The interviewer responded that "We don't compete against each other, but it doesn’t mean we are not a competitive school. We compete with each other, allowing others to be part of your game and share the joy in victories.” This is consistent in Tripod Hockey, and I learned how inclusive leadership could be carried out in a competitive world.
Kakeru Tsubota T’23 is an enterprise tech enthusiast from Tokyo, Japan. He is transitioning his tech career from regional sales to a Silicon Valley-based strategist. At Tuck, Kakeru is a part of Tech Club, Design and Innovation Club, Center for Digital Strategies, and Soccer Club. He holds a BA from International Christian University in Tokyo. You can follow Kakeru on LinkedIn.